The sun is starting to peek over the horizon, your tailgating feast has been marinating all night, and your cooler is waiting to be filled. It’s game day!. Whether your team is in the Big 12, SEC or the Pros, there is one thing we all have in common, a love for tailgating.
A Tradition is Born
It makes sense that the origins of tailgating are connected to an old Texas rancher, Charles Goodnight. Goodnight added a grill to the back of an army wagon, and the chuckwagon was born. The chuckwagon was a mobile way to keep hard working cowboys fed.
Fast forward a bit, and we see that there are many different theories of how tailgating evolved from the chuckwagon to a sporting event must have that we are familiar with today. Some say fans had to arrive to games early to secure a spot and ate food to pass the hours until kickoff. Others say baseball was the first sport associated with tailgating. It doesn’t really matter to us which sport ignited the popularity of tailgating, we are just glad it did!
Tailgating is one tradition that many fans love and see as a part of their game experience. There is nothing like walking through rows of tents, smelling the aroma of mountains of traditional tailgating food, and cooling off with an ice cold drink as you wait for game time. Everyone is smiling and giving out fist bumps to fellow fans. No one is a stranger at a tailgate. If you are a fan of the same team, you instantly become family, sharing food, drinks and reminiscing on past wins.
Finding the Perfect Spot
First you have to determine where you want to invest. Pro football or baseball? Maybe you’d rather go to collegiate games and tailgate at your alma mater. Regardless, most stadiums offer tailgating spots for seasonal purchase. Their costs depend on how close the spot is to the stadium. The closer you are to the stadium, the more expensive the higher the cost. It is best to research your options and see which spot will fit best into your budget. It may be worth splitting the cost with another family member or friend. That way multiple people can enjoy the experience of tailgating.
Once you secure a spot, it is time to secure your firewood. If you plan on tailgating at every home game, we suggest a full cord of firewood. This will insure that you have enough for the season with a one time order and plenty to keep your fires roaring all day long without skimping. We can delivery the firewood to your house and you can take it to the stadium from there! Easy! But which type of wood do you need? We suggest seasoned post oak. This firewood will provide a depth of flavor to your meal. It’s not as subtle as pecan but not as overpowering as mesquite. Post Oak is great for a variety of meats, so you’ll be prepared no matter what is on your menu!
You checked off the two biggest items on your list, now it’s time for the fun: planning your tailgating menu! Chances are, friends and family are going to flock to your new spot and your menu has to accommodate your fellow fans.
So what meals meet the tailgating criteria? Finger foods (or minimal utensil use), easy clean up, and it’s always great if other people can bring the sides! It also depends on what season you are tailgating in, for instance, baseball is mostly summer so you may not want to test out your wood-fired chilli here. BUT if you are a football fan, that is a perfect place for it. Burgers and hot dogs are a tailgating classic. Everyone loves them, they don’t take long to make and it usually doesn’t create a big mess. Ribs are another fan favorite. They are a hearty, smoky, delicious finger food. They take a little longer to cook but they are worth the wait. Ribs don’t come without mess but that’s the fun part about ribs that everyone secretly enjoys. Walking tacos take the third spot. Guests can grab a small bag of chips, add in your fajita meat and fixin’s and enjoy their “taco” on the go. There are so many amazing tailgating recipes that we will have to have a separate post for them. But you’ll notice all of these suggestions have one thing in common, minimalism. Tailgating is not the time for fine china and silverware, you need paper plates, or bowls, plastic utensils (if any), and napkins. Your guests can bring chips, dips and simple desserts to enjoy along with the main entree.
Don’t forget the drinks! Pack your Yeti cooler with iced tea, sodas, and beer in the summer, and fill your thermoses with hot chocolate in the winter. Mimosas, bloody marys, and hot toddies are also popular amongst the tailgating crowd. And you have to have juice boxes for the kiddos! Don’t forget them! Early morning winter game? You can get carafes of wood fired coffee from Summer Moon on your way. Last, but not least, WATER. While it is great to enjoy this array of libations, it is also important to stay hydrated. Especially in the heat of Texas at a stadium all day long.
Next is the gear. Besides the obvious items like your team jersey and foam finger, there are a few other things you might need for your tailgating extravaganza. You’ll need a radio to listen to all of the pregame talk as well as the game if you don’t plan on going into the stadium. Chairs and a TV are a must if you don’t plan on venturing into the stadium. This way you can watch the game from the comfort of your spot. Chairs will still be needed even if you go into the stadium. You’ll need to take a break from all of that grilling you’ll be doing! Bringing a football or baseball to toss around and pass the time wouldn’t be a bad idea either. If the weather is questionable, you might keep a few ponchos on hand along with a tent. The elements shouldn’t keep you from having fun. If you do plan on going into the stadium to watch the game, you cannot forget your tickets!
Tailgating is a unique experience for family fun, grilling, eating, and connecting with others. It hits all of the bases for making amazing memories. Passing on traditions and most importantly, spending time with the ones you love while rooting for the team you love. It doesn’t get much better than that.